Friday, March 5, 2010

What Can Brown Do For You?

On the first night of my visit to my friend Chris in Scranton, Pennsylvania, we had stopped at a local supermarket called Weis to pick up a few food items. One of these items happened to be a package of seeded Kaiser rolls from a local bakery called National Bakery. Without knowing exactly what we had picked up, we returned to his house only to discover that the rolls were incredibly fresh and flavorful. So much so that Chris offered to drive us to the bakery itself the next day and check it out.

We decided to make it a double-header trip and stop for lunch at a local diner that Chris had been meaning to try out for some time, the Glider Diner. Located at 890 Providence Road, Scranton, PA 18505, they can also be reached at 570-343-8036. They also have a website which is located here. As we got closer to the restaurant, I began to see the outline of a classic diner car:

We parked next to the structure and walked in the front door. What started out as a small diner car that probably would've sat 25 to 30 patrons opened up, Tardis-style, into a back room that sat many, many more patrons. It also turned out that there was a rear-entrance as well. We had thought that there might be a wait since we had shown up for lunch right around noon, but only minutes after seating ourselves in the first room off the diner car, our server approached us with the menu and took our drink order.

Here was a shot of the menu:

While looking over the menu, I spotted another local food that Chris had told me about when we were talking about my visit, Porketta. Now, some of my gentle readers out there who are more familiar with Italian cuisine might think I may have just misspelled Porchetta, but I haven't. Both versions involve pork, however, and the version I was about to experience in Scranton was closer to a sliced pork roast that had been heavily seasoned on the outside with spices, salt, and herbs. While I am sure that there are many variations of this product that range from cook to cook, here is a link to a representative sample.

When I saw that the Glider Diner had a hot Porketta sandwich, I immediately knew what I intended to order. The only other decision I needed to make was whether to order the French fries, mashed potatoes, or home fries to accompany my sandwich. I decided on a side of home fries with gravy. Chris went with a more traditional breakfast.

After what seemed like a very short time, both of our meals arrived. When my server set this down in front of me,

the only thing that popped into my head was, "Wow, that's a LOT of brown." I mean, I know I was eating in a diner and all, but even just a nice little sprig of parsley would've gone a long way towards breaking up the sable monotone on the plate. The other thing that surprised me was that from my reading of the menu, I had thought that the sandwich bread would sit on top of the gravy instead of covered by it; kind of an open-faced sandwich that was topped with a bread slice.

Let's talk about the sandwich first. Here was a close-up of just the sandwich:

Having never tried Porketta before, I offered my friend Chris a bite. He said that it was pretty representative of the other versions he had tried since moving to Scranton. The pork was sliced thinly and was tender, but it tended to be a little dry in spots that were not covered in gravy. I immediately picked up on the seasoning and herbs used to flavor the Porketta, although they weren't overpowering at first. The more I ate, the more intense the flavor became, especially the saltiness. The bread was of the American sandwich variety and was definitely the right choice for this type of sandwich. The gravy was rich and seasoned well, but was a bit heavy handed in its application.

Having tasted my Porketta sandwich, I moved on to my home fries with gravy:

It turns out that I'm glad I ordered the gravy as the home fries by themselves were wholly unseasoned (i.e. no salt). The fries were cooked nicely and had some nice caramelization from the griddle, but had they come naked I would've definitely had to apply salt from the shaker or perhaps ketchup. In this particular case, however, the gravy did an excellent job of serving that purpose. When I asked Chris if his home fries were seasoned, he admitted that they weren't, but having slathering his in ketchup, he didn't seem to particularly care.

The best part of the experience, however, was the price. The entire plate of food I had received today for lunch was only $6.80 plus tip and tax. I only managed to eat about two-thirds before I had to give up, lest my stomach continue its cries of "Stop! Stop!" Now that I've had Porketta, I don't know that it would be something I would crave. However, as the saying goes, "When in Rome ..." and I'm happy to have tried the Glider Diner's version. Chris was very happy with the omelet he received for his breakfast and I think the general consensus was that either of us would be happy to return again. Our bellies now full, we hopped back in the car to track down the National Bakery outlet.

Glider Restaurant on Urbanspoon Glider Restaurant on Restaurantica


Nancy Heller said...

I had similar "brown plate" experience at one of our favorite restaurants in Florida - for a plate that cost considerably more than $7! Hopefully, I will get that blog post up very shortly.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

Recently came across your blog after trying to find the menu for Thai Gourmet in Stow. I've been browsing your site and think it's great - I'm a recent transplant to the area who has been largely disappointed by the food in the area, but I apparently have not been going to ANY of the right places, and will start making my way to the places you've reviewed.

Keep up the good work!

-- A new fan

Tino said...

@Nancy Heller: Looking forward to reading it!

@Anonymous: Thanks so much for taking the time to check out my labor of love! It's funny ... at first I was bummed because I didn't have regular access to all of the wonderful restaurants that Cleveland has to offer. But as I did more and more Akron/Canton research, I began to discover that we have excellent restaurants, too. We just needed to find them.

Keep reading and commenting and if you find something good, please feel free to suggest it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails